October 10, 2013
Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Byron Scott shared his experiences as a professional athlete and spoke about the importance of a college education, Monday, September 30, in Centennial High School’s library. Sponsored by nonprofits Hitting the Right Note and Musication, Inc., the hour-long program provided over 30 students, many of them young athletes, with the opportunity to interact and learn from the NBA great. Students listened as Scott, who recently coached the Cleveland Cavaliers, discussed growing up in Inglewood, how he was mentored by Centennial’s Principal Jesse Jones, and realizing the value of an undergraduate degree.
Principal Jones said he is proud of Scott’s success and wanted his students to learn the realities of the sports business. “I wanted them to hear about how much hard work, sacrifice, and intelligence it takes to make it as a professional athlete,” he said. “Centennial is grateful to have Byron here, and on a personal level, it means a lot to reconnect with one of my former students from my days as principal at Morningside High School in Inglewood.”
Jones added, “I think that because Byron comes from a community much like Compton, it enables these kids to relate to his experiences. It helps them see the potential within themselves.”
For Scott, who will begin a new career as a broadcaster alongside former Lakers player Luke Walton on Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet, any opportunity to give back to local communities is time well-spent. “Mr. Jones was my principal in Inglewood. Today was a reunion for us, and it was great to see him again. He taught me so much when I was one of his students,” he noted.
“The biggest thing for me was to come here and educate these young people, especially the ones who are athletes trying to make it where I’ve been. I wanted to let them know what it takes to get there, what it means to be there, and what it takes to stay there.”
Scott said he credits his education with his professional success, and encouraged all students in attendance to find a subject they would like to major in.
“I wanted to motivate them to fulfill their dreams, but also to let them know that they should never forget about their education. They need to know that the most important thing right now is to graduate high school, go to college, get a degree, and everything after that is gravy,” he said. “I went to Arizona State University, where I majored in telecommunications. It all applies to everything I do. I want Centennial’s students to understand that.”
October 10, 2013
By Kenneth Miller
Assistant Managing Editor
If Timothy Bradley walked into the grocery store, would you know who he is?
But, you would know who Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is!
Bradley is the other guy. The other prominent Black fighter who has won multiple world championships in the welterweight division.
The other undefeated champion that few people are talking about.
Bradley in essence has taken Mayweather’s seat with Top Rank as its signature fighter, and on Saturday Oct. 12, he will defend his WBO welterweight championship against Juan Manuel Marquez at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Both Bradley and his opponent have done something that Mayweather will probably never do. They have both defeated Manny Pacquiao.
Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) beat Pacquiao in a disputed split decision in June 2012 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
In a fight that brutally under delivered on its prominence, Bradley walked away from his greatest boxing achievement feeling rather shameful. Observers felt that he clearly lost the fight.
After talks of a rematch failed, Bradley went about his business in the manner in which he always has—with class and dignity.
Marquez knocked out Pacquiao cold six months later and has gained all of the fame that has eluded Bradley.
In March, Bradley retained his WBO title by winning a unanimous decision against Rusian Provodnikov at the Home Depot center is Carson.
Mayweather will probably scoff that even if Bradley beats Marquez, it’s not enough to put him on the same plateau.
However, Bradley also has a victory over a guy that Mayweather wouldn’t fight in Devon Alexander.
Bradley is six years younger than Mayweather at age 30, and their styles are contrasting both in and outside the ring.
Bradley is considered a brutal brawler, a fighter who will take way more risk than he should to land a punch. During his last fight, he was knocked down and nearly out before surviving and retaining his belt. His moniker is ‘Desert Storm.’
Born in Cathedral City, California and raised in Palm Springs, he came from very humble beginnings. He used to work as a waiter and dishwasher before he decided that he wanted to become a champion fighter.
While he loves cars, they are not like the ones that Mayweather owns, and instead of flaunting his wealth with fancy jewelry and gifts to sexy women, he is diplomatic, polite and reserved. He is also happily married to his high school friend, Monica Manzo.
“I have come a long way, and when I am in training, I am zoned out,” Bradley told the Sentinel during his final preparations last week.
When he finds himself in trouble he said that he will gain the inner strength from his family and the hard work that he puts into training before fights.
He listens to rap music of such artist as Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake while running 8-10 miles through the desert hillside.
A father of three, including his two adopted children through his marriage, the California native is willing to do what ever it takes to win a fight within the rules.
When he steps into the ring against Marquez in their HBO Pay-Per-View confrontation, he will be meeting a man who has more knockouts than he has fights. Marquez is 55-(40 Kos)-6-1.
He is also 40-years old.
They both have victories over “The Man.”
Marquez is ranked as the No. 3, pound-for-pound fighter in the world according to ESPN. Bradley is ranked 9th, way out on the fringe.
A victory Saturday night could change all of that, but chances are it will not change who Bradley is. He’s the Man!
October 03, 2013
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Meet Mr. Hitner.
Called by that name for years out of respect for his hard-hitting defense, San Francisco safety Donte Whitner has filed paperwork in Ohio through his lawyer to formally change his name by removing the ‘W’ — after receiving permission from his mother, Deborah, to do so.
“My last name was Whitner, now it’s Hitner,” Whitner said Wednesday. “Yeah, it’s legal, I’m taking the ‘W’ off. I asked my mom first, though. She said no in the summer, then she said yes three nights ago. It’s pretty cool.”
Whitner has been in touch with Nike to determine how many No. 31 Whitner jerseys are still for sale in retail stores and elsewhere and whether he might need to financially contribute to make the switch.
He doesn’t seem overly concerned about that small part of the process.
“Depending how many there are,” he said. “I haven’t really seen that many around Candlestick, unless somebody’s hiding them.”
The $27 fee for legally changing his name is money well spent, Whitner said.
His uncle, Mario Whitner, helped encourage Whitner’s mother — Mario’s sister — to go along with the switch.
“The only person I really take instruction from is my mom. That’s why I’m happy this week she said yes. I asked her again,” Whitner said. “My uncle just came home and he pretty much convinced her. He was a guy that was there for me when I was a little, little boy and went away for a while, to prison.”
While he would love to debut his new name for Sunday night’s prime-time game at home in Candlestick Park against the Houston Texans, he said it realistically would probably take another week before his new name is on the back of his uniform. That would be Oct. 13 at Arizona.
Coach Jim Harbaugh learned of Whitner’s plans Wednesday, then approached him in the locker room with encouraging words: “It’s kind of catchy.”
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick also approved, offering a “good change” with a thumbs-up of support.
Is he taking a cue or two from Chad Johnson — who became Chad Ochocinco for a time — or NBA star Ron Artest’s change to Metta World Peace?
“That was a lot,” Whitner said of World Peace. “I think one word is not as big as 10 words. It’s what I do. It’s my last name. Removing a letter makes it pretty cool.”
No matter what it says on the back of the safety’s jersey Sunday, everybody on the defense has one name they want on the field: Willis.
Linebacker Patrick Willis missed last Thursday night's 35-11 victory at St. Louis with a strained groin sustained against the Colts on Sept. 22, an injury even the All-Pro thought was far worse than it is.
Defensive teammate Justin Smith deemed Willis a go for Sunday, and he returned to practice Wednesday.
“He’s playing, so definitely,” Smith said when asked about Willis’ impact.
Willis is encouraged with his progress considering this is an injury he has never had before. Yet he insists he won’t play unless he knows he is healthy enough to help the team — and he is still dealing with some pain.
“The only thing I can do is have the right mindset,” Willis said. “The biggest thing right now is making sure I stay on pace and don’t do too much and at the same make sure that if I’m going to be out there I can help my teammates and help us win.”
The 49ers have no imminent updates or announcements planned on the status of linebacker Aldon Smith, who entered an in-patient rehab facility last week for substance abuse. He is on an indefinite leave of absence and the team doesn’t comment on personal matters.
Also Wednesday, San Francisco signed quarterback John Skelton to a one-year contract, giving them a strong-armed third-stringer.
Skelton signed a day after the Niners waived rookie B.J. Daniels, whom Harbaugh had hoped could still be a practice squad option before the rival Seahawks snatched him up off waivers. Skelton was cut by the Bengals on Aug. 31 when they set their 53-man roster. Cincinnati claimed Skelton off waivers when the Arizona Cardinals — the 49ers’ NFC West foe — let him go in April.
Skelton worked out for the team last month.
“He had an excellent workout when he was here a few weeks back, one of the better workouts I’ve seen from a quarterback in those workout environments,” Harbaugh said. “Felt like we wanted to have two veteran quarterbacks, two guys that have started games, played in games, won games. Felt that’s what we needed to do at this time.”
October 10, 2013
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was charged Wednesday with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a party at his home in June 2012.
The Santa Clara County district attorney’s office said in announcing the charges that Smith is expected to surrender on his own later this month. The 24-year-old Smith is on an indefinite leave of absence from the NFC champion Niners while undergoing treatment for substance abuse at an in-patient facility following a DUI arrest Sept. 20.
“We’ve been aware of the incident, the serious nature of it. We’re all accountable for our actions, good and bad,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. “There’s a process, due process, that will take place. I don’t feel any need to comment further on it.”
When asked whether Smith — who set a franchise record with 19 1/2 sacks last season — would play again this year, Harbaugh said only, “I don’t have any need to further comment on it.”
On Monday, the coach said he had traded a few text messages with Smith, saying, “Heard that things are going very well, very positive reports back.”
If convicted, Smith could face up to four years and four months in jail, the district attorney's office said.
“The preamble to the assault weapons law states that each assault weapon ‘has such a high rate of fire and capacity for firepower that its function as a legitimate sports or recreational firearm is substantially outweighed by the danger that it can be used to kill and injure human beings,’” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “California’s prohibition of these powerful weapons is not about hunting or target practice. It is about interrupting the long history of death, carnage and grief assault weapons have inflicted on California communities.”
Smith also is likely to face a suspension from the NFL, perhaps pushed back to next season or after his legal issues are resolved.
The 49ers issued a statement Wednesday.
“The 49ers organization is aware of the recent developments with Aldon arising from an incident at his home in 2012,” the team said. “We recognize the serious nature of this situation, as does Aldon, and will continue to monitor it closely. As this is an ongoing legal matter, we will have no further comment.”
Last month, Smith and former teammate Delanie Walker were named in a lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court by a Northern California man who said he was shot at a party at Smith’s house on June 29, 2012.
The players charged a $10 admission and $5 per drink, the lawsuit said. Smith and now-Titans tight end Walker, 29, were allegedly intoxicated on Smith's balcony when they fired gunshots in the air while trying to end the party, the lawsuit said.
Before the 2012 home opener last September, Smith was the passenger in a car during an accident in Santa Clara County in which the driver swerved to avoid hitting a deer. Smith sustained a cut beneath his right eyebrow. He apologized and insisted he had grown up.
Smith, selected seventh overall in the 2011 draft out of Missouri, had previously been arrested on suspicion of DUI in January 2012 in Miami shortly after the 49ers lost in the NFC championship game.
He is on the reserve non-football injury list while in rehab, and there is no NFL minimum for number of games he must miss while on the list.
Smith played in a 27-7 home loss to the Colts on Sept. 22 and had five tackles just two days after he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession. Smith apologized for his behavior after the game.
October 03, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) —NBA legend Michael Jordan believes he could beat LeBron James in a one-on-one basketball game when he was in his prime.
He’s not sure about Kobe Bryant.
In a video promoting the NBA 2K14 video game that was released Tuesday, Jordan said there’s a long list of players he would’ve liked to have played one-on-one — Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Bryant and James, who dons the cover of this year’s game.
“I don’t think I would lose,” Jordan said in the video, before smiling and adding, “Other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves.”
Responded James: “MJ said that?”
James was told of Jordan’s comments after the Miami Heat completed their first training camp practice in the Bahamas on Tuesday, and said that the buzz would serve as good promotion for the game.
“Absolutely, I thought about the matchup,” James said. “But no one would ever see it. It’s not going to happen. But it’s good for people to talk about.”
Jordan was listed as 6-foot-6 and 213 pounds during his prime. He averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game during his 15 seasons in the NBA.
Jordan, a six-time NBA champion and considered by many the greatest basketball player ever, has had a sponsorship deal with 2K Sports since 2011, when he first appeared on the cover of the popular game. James, 6-8, 250 pounds, has averaged 25.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6 assists during his first 10 seasons in the league.
The 50-year-old Jordan, who was a five-time league MVP and is the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, also shared the cover in 2012 with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.